Dark Matter

The Great Debate, Brothers, Putin, Lost Without You, Sonny Boy, It’s a Jungle out There (V2), She Chose Me, On the Beach, Wandering Boy

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To this great arena
Durham, North Carolina
In the heart of the Research Triangle

We’ve come to this particular place tonight
Because we gotta look at things from every angle
We need some answers to some complicated questions
If we’re going to get it right

To that end we have here gathered
Some of the most expensive scientists in the world
Eminent scientists, that is
We got biologists, biometricians
We got a quantum mechanic and an astrophysician
We got a cosmologist and a cosmetician
We’ve got an astronaut
We got Astroboy
We got he doctors, she doctors, knee doctors, tree doctors
We a got a lumberjack
And a life coach

On the other side
We have the true believers

We got the Baptists, the Methodists, the Presbyterians
The Episcopalians are here
Pass the hat
We got the Shakers, the Quakers
The anti-innoculators
We got the Big Boss Line, it’s Madison time
The Six Blind Boys, Five Tons of Joy
Give them room
Get out of the way
We got a Bible Belter from the Mississippi Delta
Have them all arrayed

Are you ready?

First question: dark matter
Oh, dark matter
Give me someone knows something about space
(Nice space music, Georgie)
Alright, what is it?
Where is it?
And can we get some?
Stand up, sir, would you?
You are standing, forgive me
Dark matter, go ahead

Dark matter is out in space
It’s 75% of everything

Just a moment, sir
Do yourself a favor
Use our music
People like it
And your music’s making people sick
No? Alright. It’s a free country, go ahead
Dark matter
What is it?

We don’t know what it is
But we think it’s everywhere

I’d like to take a look at it
Can we get some down here?

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
Of course not!

Let me get this straight
You don’t know what it is
You don’t know where it is
And we can’t get any
Put that to the one side

Let’s put the Lord, faith, eternity, whatever on the other side
A show of hands?

I’ll take Jesus
I’ll take Jesus
I’ll take Jesus every time
I’ll take Jesus
I’ll take Jesus
I’ll take Jesus every time
Yes I will, yes I will
Yes I will, yes I will
I’ll take Jesus, I’ll take Jesus
I’ll take Jesus every time

Next one is gonna be a hard one
It’s about the theory of evolution
And it’s about animals also
So give me someone knows something about evolution
And animals.

Who you got?
Wow, you’re a beautiful woman, aren’t you?
It doesn’t matter, of course
But if this science thing doesn’t work out for you
Don’t boo, don’t boo me
I’m just kidding, you know that

Here’s my question:
Explain me the giraffe
Go ahead

With pleasure, miss.

The giraffe, to survive, must eat leaves high up on the yaba yaba tree
That’s true, isn’t it?
Of course it is
Everyone knows that
But Mr. Darwin’s giraffe
A halfway giraffe with a halfway-giraffe neck
Could never have reached the highest branches of the yaba yaba
Therefore he could not have survived
It’s only common sense
Unfortunately for you, Mr. Charles Darwin didn’t have any common sense
Evolution is a theory and we have just now tonight disproved it.

Show of hands?

I’ll take Jesus
I’ll take Jesus
I’ll take Jesus every time
I’ll take Jesus
I’ll take Jesus
I’ll take Jesus every time
Yes I will, yes I will
Yes I will, yes I will
I’ll take Jesus every time!

Alright, two-nothing

Next question:
Global warming
Is it?
And if so, so what?

TRUE BELIEVER (in the distance):

One of the true believers seeks to be recognized!
Hand him a mic, Charles
Thank you

Sir, do you know what you are?
You’re an idiot
You’re a strawman
A fabrication

You see, the author of this little vignette, Mr. Newman,
A self-described atheist and commonist
Creates characters like you
As objects of ridicule
He doesn’t believe anything he has you say
Nor does he want us to believe
Anything you say
It makes it easy for him to knock you down
Hence, a straw man

I myself believe in Jesus
I believe in evolution also
I believe in global warming
And in life everlasting
No one can knock me down

Oh, we can knock you down, mister
We can knock your commonist friend down too
Commonist! You call me an idiot
We’ve been knocking people like Mr. Newman down
For years and years
Like this

Page 35, Georgie
Miss Dorothy
Page 35

I know someone is watching me
Everywhere I go
Someone sees everything I see
Knows everything I know

When I’m in trouble
Don’t have a friend
There’s still somebody on whom I can depend
Someone who’ll be there ’til the very end
Someone is watching me!

Someone is watching me!
Someone is watching me!
For so long, I was too blind to see
Someone is watching me

We’re gonna take a little break, ladies and gentlemen
15, 20, 25 minutes
Depending on how the merchandise is moving
We’ll be right back



Hey, Bobby
Why are you standing in the shadows?
Come over by the fire
I want to have a drink with you

This is our house now
So let’s act like we belong here
Considering some of those who’ve lived here
Maybe we do

I got some Michter’s Irish whiskey
From Mr. George Preston Marshall
The man who’s owned the Redskins
Since the days of old
And he runs them like a plantation
Like a plantation, Jack?
Like a plantation, Bob
For never has a black man
Worn the burgundy and gold
Does he know it’s the capital of the country, Jack?
Does he know that its 1961?
Does he know that the Redskins
Need a halfback, Bobby Boy
Who can run?

There’s a man to see you in the office, Jack
Bob, I’m going home, I’ve had a rotten day
You are home, Jack
Well, I still don’t want to see him
I think you should see him anyway
It’s about Cuba, Jack
The Russians are pouring in
And it’s 90 milles away

This man has a plan to overthrow the government there
With a very small expeditionary force
They’ll land on the beaches in the dead of night
So no one will be at the beach.
Right, Bob?
That’s right, Jack

The people will join them
They’ll march on Havana
And our planes will fly support
But they won’t, Bob
We’ll have nothing to do with this
But wait
Wait a minute, Bobby Boy

There’s a woman there in Cuba
Whom I love
Oh no, Jack
Not in a bad way, but a good way
Do you know any Cuban music, Bob?
Does I Love Lucy count?
Of course it does
But the one whom I love is
Celia Cruz

Celia Cruz, Celia Cruz
The greatest singer in the world today
If she’s there and wants to get away
Then bring her here to the USA

I’ll see the man with the plan
And I’ll be the first to shake him by the hand
And I’ll be the first to give him the news
We’re gonna save Celia Cruz
Celita Cruz, Celia Cruz
Celia Cruz, Celia Cruz
Sing along, Bobby
Celia Cruz, Celia Cruz

Sing harmony, Bob
I always sing harmony, Jack
I know you do

I’m excited Bob
Just like the Rough Riders
You excited?
Dad was right about you
Big office, isn’t it, Bobby?
Long hallway

PUTIN (3:44)


Putin puttin’ his pants on
One leg at a time
You mean he’s just like a regular fellow, huh?
He ain’t nothin’ like a regular fellow!

Putin puttin’ his hat on
Hat size number nine
You sayin’ Putin’s gettin’ big-headed?
Putin’s head’s just fine

He can drive his giant tractor
Across the Trans-Siberian plain
He can power a nuclear reactor
With the left side of his brain
And when he take his shirt off
He drive the ladies crazy
And when he take his shirt off
Make me wanna be a lady
It’s the Putin Girls!

Putin if you put it when you
Put it where you put it
Putin if you put it
Will you put it next to me
Putin if you put it when you
Put it where you put it
Putin if you put it
Will you put it next to me

Now Putin hates the Putin Girls
‘Cause he hates vulgarity
And he loves his mother country
And he loves his family

He and his ex-wife, Lyudmila
Are riding along the shore of the beautiful new Russian Black Sea
Let’s listen in
A great man is speaking

We fought a war for this?
I’m almost ashamed
The Mediterranean
Now there’s a resort worth fighting for
If only the Greeks or the Turks
Would start to sniff around
I’d bring the hammer down
So quick their woolly heads would spin
Woolly head, woolly head, woolly head

Wait a minute, even better
What if the Kurds got in the way?
Hey! Curds and whey, curds and whey

Sometimes a people is greater than their leader
Germany, Kentucky, France
Sometimes a leader towers over his country
One shot at glory, they don’t get a second chance
I dragged these peasants kicking and screaming
Into the 21st century
I thought we’d make it
I must’ve been dreaming
These chicken farmers and fire clerks gonna be the death of me

I can’t do it
Sure you can
I can’t do it
Yeah you can
What makes you say that, girls?
Tell you why. ‘Cause you’re the Putin man!
Who whipped Napoleon?
We did!
Who won World War II?
The Americans!
That’s a good one, ladies
It’s our turn to sit in the comfy chair
And you’re the man gonna get us there!

I don’t know, Lenin couldn’t do it
I don’t know, Stalin couldn’t do it
They couldn’t do it
Why do you think I can?
You’re gonna lead our people to the Promised Land
You’re right, Goddamn
I’m the Putin man



Even if I knew which way the wind was blowing
Even if I knew this road would lead me home
Even if I knew for once where I was going
I’m lost out here without you

Rooking the baby by that window there
Planting tomatoes in the yard
Naked by the mirror putting up your hair
Baby, its hard

When the kids came to see you for the last time
I told them not to bring the children
The husbands, or the wife
I said, Just the blood this time. Just the blood.
They asked to be alone with you
So I left them alone, but I didn’t go far

They said, “Has he been drinking again?
He stumbled at the door.
He can’t take care of himself, Mama
We can’t do this anymore.”

You said, “Hush up, children
Let me breathe.
I’ve been listening to you all your life.
Are they hungry, are they sick?
What is it they need?
Now it’s your turn to listen to me.

“I was young when we met
And afraid of the world
Now its he who’s afraid
And I’m leaving.

“Make sure he sleeps in his bed at night.
Don’t let him sleep in that chair.
If he holds out his hand to you, hold it tight.
If that makes you uncomfortable
Or if it embarrasses you
I don’t care.”

Even if I knew which way the wind was blowing
Even if I knew this road would lead me home
Even if I knew for Once where I was going
I’m lost out here
Baby, I’m lost out here
I’m lost out here without you

SONNY BOY (4:42)


It’s me comin’ at you
From the land beyond
I’m up here in heaven
Where I belong

I’m gonna tell you my story
And about a man who’s down in Hell
He ain’t up here anyway
As far as I can tell

This man stole my name
He stole my soul
They’re so holy up there they don’t understand
But he even tried to steal my jellyroll

So here it is
My story
Here it is from the top

My name is Sonny Boy Williamson
I come from Jackson, Tennessee
Being a man named Sonny Boy
Might bother you
It never bothered me none

My mother loved me
My wife did too
I had a dream and the dream come true
I wrote some songs that the people knew
Like, “Good Morning, School Girl” and “Jackson Blues”

Around the time of the Great Migration
The blues run up the river
Spread across the nation
I run up with them, caused a great sensation
Selling biscuits on the radio
In Chicago

Out on the West Side to see the sights
Turned the corner
See my name in lights
Said I’d been playing there for 14 nights
This, I had to see

This big, old ugly cat was on the stage
Twice my size, about my age
Played six songs, five were mine
If I said he was good, I’d be lyin’

Then he says, “What’s my name?”
The crowd says, “Sonny Boy!”
He says, “What’s my name?”
They go, “Sonny Boy!”
And he says, “What’s my name?”
And I said, “Hold it!”

My name is Sonny Boy Williamson
The one from Jackson, Tennessee
Don’t know who you are or where you come from
But one thing I do know
You ain’t me, son

I looked in his eyes
And they was red
As was the ‘rangtang hair dye all over his head
Scared me so bad
I ran outside
Looked for a place to hide
Ran ’round a corner
Smack into a robbery
They were shootin’ at each other
But they hit me
Next thing I know
I came up here
In the middle of my 34th year

Now I’m the only bluesman in Heaven
Makes me kind of sad
I’m the only one died so young
Didn’t have the time to do nothing bad

As for Sonny Boy 2
The man who stole my name
Went on to glory, fortune and fame
He’s the one who went to England
Tried to teach those English boys the blues
He said, “What do I have to lose?”
Well it killed him
Yeah it killed him

Now I’m the only bluesman in Heaven
And I’m lonely as can be
Lord, if you’re listening
Hear my plea
Send down a bluesman
To play the blues with me

This is Sonny Boy Williamson Number One
That’s my story
I’m done



It’s a jungle out there
Disorder and confusion everywhere
No one seems to care
Well, I do
Hey! Who’s in charge here?

It’s a jungle out there
Poison in the very air we breathe
You know what’s in the water that you drink?
Well I do
And it’s amazing

People think I’m crazy
‘Cause I worry all the time
If you paid attention, you’d be worried too
You better pay attention or this world we love so much
Might just kill you
I could be wrong now
But I don’t think so
‘Cause it’s a jungle out there
It’s a jungle out there

Its a jungle out there
Violence and danger everywhere
It’s brother against brother
Pounding on each other
Like they were millionaires

It’s a jungle out there
It’s a jungle in here too
They got a tap right on your phone
Got microphoneв and cаmегаs
Checking out everything you do

Call it paranoia
But as the saying goes
Even paranoids have enemies
I’m not the one who’s crazy
I’m not afraid of them
They’re afraid of you and me
I could be wrong there
But I don’t think so

‘Cause its a jungle out there
It’s a jungle out there

It’s a jungle out there
Even the cops are scared today
So if you see a uniform
Do exactly what they say
Or make a run for it
I’m only kidding with you

‘Cause its a jungle out there
It’s a jungle out there



I’m not much to talk to
And I know how I look
What I know about life
Comes out of a book
But of all of the people
There are in the world
She chose me

Most of my life
I’ve been om my own
Whatever I did
I did it alone
And then she came along
Now I’m not alone
Since she ohose me

Every night I thank the lucky stars above me
That someone as beautiful as she
Could really love me
And she really loves me

From time to time
I ask myself
Why was it I and nobody else?
The most beautiful girl
That I’d ever seen
And she chose me

And she really loves me

From time to time
I ask myself
Why was it I and not someone else?
The most beautiful girl
In all of the world
And she chose me



It all began in grammar school and on the beach
Everybody graduated
There we were
Off we went to junior high
There we were
Everybody graduated

Off we went to high school
Except one of us
On the beach he was and there he stayed
He saw the Hobie Cat, the beginnings of it
Longboard, shortboard, every board
On the beach
He saw it
On the beach

Roll Willie
Roll Willie
You saw it all, Willie
On the beach
You’re not album, Willie
Never a bum, Willie
But in years to come, Willie
‘Twas in reach

Some went to college
Some went to war
Some came back crazy
Some were crazy before
Willie saw acid
Willie saw fear
Willie saw freelbase
But Willie’s still here
On the beach, on the beach
Still on the beach, still on the beach

They’re building a railroad from downtown to here
That’s what they say
They said it sixty years ago
But they’re building it today

The lifeguard towers you used to live in
Are comin’ down
Man, they’re comin’ down
The lifeguard towers
Where you’d hold forth for hours
About the polyurethane
The Hobie Cat
The big longboards and the shortboards too

Wille, if it ever rains again
Don’t sleep under the pier
Those twenty foot sets we used to lie about
Well they’re here now, Willie
And they’ll take you out

Roll Willie roll
You never get old
You look just like you used to look
A hundred years ago
On the beaoh
On the beach
Nioe to see you, Willie
Still on the beach

On the beaoh
On the beach
Nice to see you, Willie
Still on the beach



Thank you for the party
We’re always glad we came
I’m the only one from the family tonight
But I know they’d say the same

I came here with my father
Then I brought my wife
Three sons, a daughter
Then the last baby boy
The little caboose we called him
The light of her life
And that’s who I’m waiting for

Where is my wandering boy tonight?
Where is my wandering boy?
If you see him push him toward the light
Where is my wandering boy?

He went off of that high board there
When he was 5 years old
Laughing like a maniac
Shining in the sun like gold
He was afraid of nothin’ then
He was loved by everyone
I see it clear as I see you
That day there in the sun

I hope he’s warm and I hope he’s dry
And that a stranger’s eye is a friendly eye
And I hope he has someone
Close by his side
And I hope that he’ll come home

Where is my wandering boy tonight?
Where is my wandering boy?
If you see him tell him everything’s alright
Push him toward the light
Where is my wandering boy?

Released by Nonesuch (558563) on August 4, 2017.

Produced by Mitchell Froom, Lenny Waronker, and David Boucher.

Written by Randy Newman.

Dark Matter Synopsis

Dark Matter is Randy Newman’s first studio album of all-new material since the 2008 release of his acclaimed Harps and Angels, an acerbic take on the state of America that Rolling Stone called “reason to wrap yourself in the flag and cheer.” The ensuing years have proven Newman to be more prognosticator than mere commentator—his “A Few Words in Defense of Our Country,” its lyrics printed on the Op-Ed page of the New York Times in January 2007, seems even more relevant today, though by no means reassuring. On Dark Matter, Newman jumps right back into the fray, opening the disc with the grand “The Great Debate” a nearly nine-minute opus that feels like the opening number of a zany musical, featuring scientists, religious zealots, and a gospel choir, arguing about the existence of evolution, dark matter, climate change, and religion. It includes a character who steps up to question the merits of a certain Mr. Randy Newman’s songwriting gambits. It’s by turns cynical and gleeful, and, in the end, true believers and skeptics alike surrender to the sheer musical joy of a catchy gospel coda, with no commitment of faith necessary.

As the album unfolds, it’s clear that Newman isn’t just going after the big targets, though he does dedicate a cheerfully bombastic tune to Vladimir Putin, conjuring up a choir of salacious “Putin Girls” to extol the Russian leader’s patriotism, his tractor-driving skills, and, of course, his impressive shirtless physique. But Newman’s storytelling takes a more intimate, character-driven approach on much of Dark Matter. He imagines an Oval Office conversation between John Kennedy and his brother Bobby before the Bay of Pigs Invasion, in which JFK confesses a hitherto unreported love for Cuban singer Celia Cruz (and a concern for her safety). On “Sonny Boy,” he envisions the original Sonny Boy Williamson, up in heaven, recounting the true story of discovering that a younger blues musician had stolen his name and his tunes and rose to fame during the British invasion and well beyond. The characters in “On the Beach” and “Wandering Boy”—a surfer dude mired in the sand for life in the former, a father wistfully recalling his long absent son’s promising younger years in the latter—are either trapped in the past or full of nostalgia.

Newman tempers his critiques with a tenderness that often comes through in his brilliant, cinematic arrangements: lighthearted café jazz runs counter to the sad tale that is “On the Beach”; the unadorned piano on “Wandering Boy” closes out the album on an understated, poignant note. On artfully orchestrated songs like “Lost Without You” and “She Chose Me,” Newman is straightforward with his emotions as well as his melodies. There is no reading between the lines on these tracks. “She Chose Me,” destined to be covered by many a discerning singer, is an unabashed love song, something that Newman always usually offers at least once on each of his albums. Although, as he says, “I may have fewer than any writer in pop music, I think. I can tell you, I would have a bigger house if that’s all I did.”

As London’s Guardian put it after the release of Harps and Angels, Newman “is able both to rail against the nonsenses that attend the end of the American empire, and go with the sweeter possibilities of the American dream. Though you never doubt his occasional existential despair, he never really stays down for much more than five minutes.” Newman uses sardonic humor to get some serious points across. As he explains, “I’ve always liked to make people laugh, but it’s not very often what the medium is used for. But I like to, I’ll always do that—I can’t help it.”

Fans who have seen Newman on his recent concert tours have already heard some of the songs that comprise Dark Matter. And, like “A Few Words in Defense of Our Country,” his “Putin” track was released as a digital single at a crucial moment in politics, right before the 2016 U.S. presidential election—premiering, appropriately enough, via the Washington Post website. Newman declared at the time, “Here’s a song dedicated to a great world leader. I hope you like it. I know he will.”

Newman, who has kept an active film scoring and performing schedule in recent years, had no overarching concept in mind as he worked on his new material, but he began to discern some connective thematic tissue as his composing progressed. “I was just writing songs,” he recounts, “and if there is anything consistent about the songs, there is often more than one voice, in the big ones, and it’s different for me, a difficult thing to bring off, to make it comprehensible,” he says. “I think it works. They cover more ground than most songs do and portray a number of different characters. Audiences are smart. They’ll understand the songs. I hope they like them as well.”

For Dark Matter, Newman reassembled his production team from Harps and Angels and The Randy Newman Songbook collection, solo piano renditions of his best-known work, which he has been assembling over the past decade: producers Mitchell Froom and Lenny Waronker and producer-engineer David Boucher. Waronker, the legendary former president of Warner Bros. Records, has been a lifelong friend and collaborator of Newman’s, arguably his most ardent supporter and fan since they were kids together in Los Angeles. Froom, whose producing career Waronker also helped to nurture, has become an essential sounding board for Newman, particularly on Dark Matter: “He helped on this record in a different way than anyone has before. He’d come over and sometimes perform an editing function. Writing is not so much about having an idea as having too many choices. I’d go down one path and he’d go, ‘Don’t add that.’ No one had ever been there before when I wrote a song. I might have still been there working on them, running in place, so Mitchell was a big help.” They assembled an equally stellar band, of relatively young, in-demand L.A. players: guitarist Blake Mills, bassist David Piltch, and drummer Matt Chamberlain.

Along with The Randy Newman Songbook, Nonesuch had also released Live in London, a CD/DVD set documenting a one-night-only concert event, with Newman and the BBC Concert Orchestra, at LSO St. Luke’s, a restored, eighteenth-century Anglican church. These discs serve as a Newman primer, showcasing the work of an artist, who, in the words of the U.K.’s Uncut magazine, is the “owner of a peerless canon.”

The seventy-three-year-old Newman began his career while still a teen, as a behind-the-scenes songwriter, composing hits for other artist before releasing his Warner Bros. debut, Randy Newman, in 1968, produced by Waronker and Van Dyke Parks. Among its tracks was the sublime, oft-covered “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today.” Early on, Newman fared better with critics and fellow musicians than with mainstream audiences: in 1970, Harry Nilsson released an entire album of Newman cover, the gorgeous Nilsson Sings Newman. It wasn’t until 1977 that Newman enjoyed his own hit with the satiric ballad “Short People.” He scored another success with the equally ironic “I Love L.A.”

Concurrent with his work as a solo artist, Newman began to establish himself as a Hollywood film composer. That was a familiar world to Newman: as a child, he attended scoring sessions with his uncles, the esteemed composers Alfred Newman, Lionel Newman, and Emil Newman, experiences that helped shape his approach to both songwriting and scoring. He received his first Academy Award nomination in 1982 for Milos Forman’s Ragtime, and finally won his first Oscar, after fifteen previous nominations, in 2002 for the song “If I Didn’t Have You” from the animated film Monsters, Inc. He won a second time in 2011 for “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3. Newman also won an Emmy for the title theme of the Tony Shalhoub–starring detective series, Monk, “It’s a Jungle out There;” he has fleshed out the theme, something fans has been clamoring for, into a full-length song for Dark Matter. He’s also won six Grammy Awards, starting in 1985 with his theme for Barry Levinson’s The Natural.

Reviewing the Songbook collection, Uncut praised “the improbable juxtapositions of caustic topicality and heart-wrenching universality, the concise character studies, and singing and piano playing that seem to emanate from the very fabric of America.” That remains true with Dark Matter. But Newman is also able to address getting older, the wisdom it sometimes imparts, and the ruefulness it inevitably brings, on songs like “Lost Without You, “She Chose Me,” and “Wandering Boy.” He continues to gauge the temperature of our nation, in a time where truth, as he illustrates in “The Great Debate,” is a dwindling commodity. And he invariably makes us laugh in the midst of our shared troubles.

“I think it’s entertaining—I hope it’s entertaining—and that’s eighty percent of what I try to do,” Newman says. “Also, I’m doing something different than I’ve ever done before. It’s a step forward for me. And considering how long I’ve been doing this, I’m kinda proud of that.”

—Michael Hill